Lighthorne man mistook sawfly for ‘killer’ hornet

Pictured: The sawfly found by Graham Marshall.
Pictured: The sawfly found by Graham Marshall.

People have been urged not to be frightened by what can look like a giant wasp or hornet – with an appeal not to kill them, especially this time of year when the harmless female is looking to lay eggs.

It comes after concerns have been raised that giant Asian hornets could make their way to this country from France, where there have been reports of at least three people dying in France after being stung.

Pictured: Graham Marshall with the sawfly he found.

Pictured: Graham Marshall with the sawfly he found.

Experts say the giant Asian hornet is a killer of bees and other beneficial species, and causes tremendous damage to European ecosystems.

And that’s what Graham Marshall thought when he found a big hornet-looking creature in his back garden in Lighthorne village.

But in fact, it was a type of Sawfly, sometimes known as the Stingless Wasp or the Giant Wood Wasp – and they are harmless.

What can look like a long sting is a hollow egg-lying tube.

The end of the tube has a serrated edge which is used to cut into leaves or soft wood, hence the name Sawfly.

Mr Marshall said it was about three inches long and with what looked like a sting jutting out about three-quarters of an inch.

He said: “It looked like something that you wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of. I thought it was a predator that kills our bees.”

Mr Marshall, aged 78, a former transport worker with Stratford Blue and Midland Red for 25 years, was so concerned that he contacted the National Bee Unit in York.

But Vanessa Amaral-Rogers, of Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust in Peterborough, said: “They are completely harmless.

“They make themselves look scarey and look like a wasp to protect themselves to scare off predators because they can’t protect themselves.

“They are not actually a fly or a wasp, but they are related.

“People should not be frightened of them, there’s definitely no sting in the tale.

“Please don’t swat them or kill them.

“They can be quite unusual looking and are normally black and yellow or black and orange.

“They are a fairly common sight and normally found near woodland.”

She said the Sawfly larvae, which over-winters in wood or leaves, can sometime look like caterpillars.

If people find unusual-looking insects, Buglife can help identify them.

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